The plan was torn asunder. Left at the side of the road to be picked up with the rest of the shattered peloton. Of course, in a Cat 5 race this is what happens. You learn to deal with the lack of any sort of definition in tactics. Emotion, strength and lack thereof rule the day – the mind taking a back seat to inexperience.
We didn’t know how many were up the road, but we assumed plenty. Four of us together felt we could pull them back. Taking pulls that were probably too long, working just a little harder than I needed to and overall just feeling like I needed to get back up there. Back in the fight. After the second lap we caught them on the climb and found out that there were only three in the front – not the twenty we had in mind.
Two of us that had worked hard were now blown and slipped on the climb. A yards distance away sat the wheel I needed but had nothing left to get to it and so separated from the group. A story as old as bike racing I imagine.
Soon enough, I was joined by a friendly rider on a bright orange/blue Specialized. “Eric”, he introduced himself and we began to work together on the final lap. Having gave my all on the chase, often I sat on just trying to make it back as quickly as possible. Eric’s company was nice however, and we exchanged compliments on each other’s rides. We picked some up and dropped some behind but coming up the final climb it was just Eric and I.
Feeling suddenly rejuvenated I hit my tempo and realized it was too much for Eric. I dropped back and followed his wheel up. He had drug me back and in doing so earned whatever position was there for the taking.
It was my fourth 11th place in a row. Just outside of the top ten I came to Henderson to obtain and that had been trying for the past two months.
It’s just a Cat 5 race, after all.